The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I have no idea where that proverb initially comes from, but I do know it has been there for a few centuries. For good reason.
At their very heart, I do think that most people believe they are good – whatever form of good they believe in – and that their actions are correct.
They might, later on, realize that they made the wrong choice and feel remorse, or might not. But, the cartoonish villains who revel in their ‘evilness’ are not really all that common. We do have psychopaths and sociopaths, but then they fundamentally do not feel right or wrong. Even Hitler, I believe, must have thought he was doing the right thing while committing genocide. But just because he thought it right, obviously, does not make it right in the least.
With such an obvious example, I should be able to rest my case. Except that is not all that I am talking about. The general public, thankfully, does not get to commit genocide. But, they do commit violence on a micro scale. We do it. All of us.
Don’t believe me? Indifference and apathy can be just as cruel as actual cruelty, and words can cut just as deep as a knife – not to mention hurt far longer than any physical wound. Here’s a few things to think on:
- When was the last time you paid attention to the people who serve you – gave them a smile or even a thank you? Waiters, porters, ticket sellers – all those people who make your life easier?
- When did you last protest when someone was being mocked for what they had no control over – their looks, their education, their hometown, their color, their gender, their accent? Did you ever stop how you would feel in their place?
- When did you say a word when your family/friends/associates last did/said something sexist/racist/classist?
- When did you last question the conservative practices around you that degrade women? Did you ever stop and ask why a biological process that is the reason we are growing (at a rather alarming rate) as a species makes women impure? Yet the same women might have to face hell if they do not have children?
- Did you ever tell someone that to treat someone as untouchable is not just harsh and cruel, but inhuman? After all, we are the same species. There is no stamp on our bodies at birth that makes one better than the other.
- When did you last speak out when gender instead of merit played a role in the decision of someone’s future?
- When was it that you spoke out against anything that you thought was wrong? Anything?
If you did speak out, thank you. You and those like you are the reason we have made some progress as a species, as a society. If you did not, try. It is hard. You will get hurt. But maybe, you will be the reason someone else will not have to face the same situation.
I know you mean well. We all mean well. We all can feel when something is not right – even if cannot put our finger on it immediately. I know it’s uncomfortable and so so hard to stand up for yourself, harder still to do so for someone else.
But isn’t it time we did so?
That 10 lane highway to hell is definitely paved with good intentions. After all, intention does not amount to much. It is your actions that count.
To be honest, I do not truly believe in Hell or Heaven. I think that what we sow, we reap in the here and now. While eternal fire may hurt terribly, facing the same hurt that your sent someone’s way does have a ring of poetic justice. It is a lesson brutally learned. And to be very honest, usually that brutality is well deserved. I guess that is the circle of karma.
I do not think it should be just about that, though. Maybe it should also be about being better people. About being humans in fact, not just Homo sapiens. Maybe if we step up, the next generation would face different problems and not be bogged down with the ones we were too cowardly to fix.